Imagine a world without the ability to pick up small objects, button a shirt, or hold a pencil. These seemingly simple tasks are made possible by a remarkable fine motor skill known as the pincer grasp. It's a skill we often take for granted, but it plays a crucial role in a child's development and daily life.
In this blog post, we will explore why the pincer grasp is so important, how to nurture its development, and also share 12 engaging pincer grasp activities to promote this essential skill in children. It is never too early to set up these pincer grasp activities at home to encourage your child to strengthen their finger muscles.
What Comes before Pincer Grasp?
The first grip your baby will use is called raking grasp. This is where they curl their fingers towards their palm in order to pick up objects.
What is Pincer Grasp?
The pincer grasp is the ability to use the thumb and index finger to grasp and manipulate small objects with precision. The tip of the thumb and index finger come together to make the shape of a bird's beak.
Why is Pincer Grasp Important?
This fine motor skill is essential for daily practical life tasks such as buttoning clothes, picking up small items and handling utensils. At school age, pincer grasp facilitates effective pencil control and has a big part to play in the development of neat handwriting and drawing.
Related: Build pre-writing skills and support handwriting development with these easy pre-writing activities!
However, we can rewind this skill all the way back to babyhood and give your child the best possible start at developing dexterity through simple pincer grasp activities. These activities are targeted at developing the pinching motion between thumb and index finger.
Read on to find out more!
12 Fun and East Pincer Grasp Activities
These pincer grasp activities in this post are ordered by difficulty level, but some also include simple variations to make them more or less fiddly. Find an activity that feels right for your child and go from there; all children develop fine motor skills at different rates. Show them how to use the tips of their thumb and index finger and celebrate with them when they manage!
Pincer Grasp Activity 1: Playing with Blocks
Pincer Grasp Activity 2: Pom Poms in a Whisk
Fill a whisk with large pom poms and use the thumb and index finger to take out one pom pom at a time.
Pincer Grasp Activity 3: Peeling tape/ Sticker Books
Washi tape or painter’s tape work for this one. Encourage your child to pull the tape off with tip-to-tip thumb and index finger. Your child could also use a sticker book for the same task. These easy dot sticker activities are wonderful to hone your child's pincer grasp too.
Pincer Grasp Activity 4:Using Tongs or Training Chopsticks
Use kitchen equipment (such as small tongs or training chopsticks) to transfer objects from one bowl to another. You could otherwise use a mini-muffin tray or ice-cube trays for this.
Make it easier: Use large pom poms.
Make it harder: Use marbles.
Pincer Grasp Activity 5: Play Doh or Kinetic Sand: Pinch, Squish, Poke
Playing with playdough or kinetic sand is a fantastic activity that not only engages children's fine motor skills but also provides a sensory and enjoyable experience!
Related: Check out these fun playdough activities and our favorite homemade playdough recipe!
Pincer Grasp Activity 6: Treasure Hunting
Hide gems or beads in kinetic sand or play sand. Have your child look for these hidden treasures and pick them out with their fingers.
Make it easier: Use a spoon, or hide larger objects such as dried pasta shapes.
Make it harder: Hide sequins, or have your child use easy-grasp plastic tweezers instead.
Pincer Grasp Activity 7: Use Easy-Grasp Plastic Tweezers
Transfer objects from one container to another using small plastic tweezers. You could combine this with a sorting activity such as the one pictured, using an egg tray for the beads.
Make it easier: Use pom poms.
Make it harder: Use gems or beads.
Pincer Grasp Activity 8: Threading onto Pipe Cleaners
Pincer Grasp Activity 9: Make a Pipe Cleaner Porcupine!
Insert pipe cleaners into the holes of a colander.
Make it easier: Use a colander with large holes.
Make it harder: Use a strainer with toothpicks, instead.
Pincer Grasp Activity 10: Threading on Shoelaces
Pincer Grasp Activity 11: Pegs on the Washing Line
Pinch the pegs and place them on the washing line. This could also double as a pattern making activity.
Make it easier: Use pegs and wide ribbon, as pictured.
Make it harder: Use bulldogs clips or sandwich bag sealing clips, instead.
Pincer Grasp Activity 12: Spaghetti Porcupine Fish
Commonly Asked Questions about Pincer Grasp
The pincer grasp is the ability to use the thumb and index finger to pick up and manipulate small objects. To help your child develop this skill, provide small toys, engage in fine motor activities like threading beads, offer finger foods, and introduce child-sized utensils. Check out our list of fun and easy pincer grasp activities you can try with your little ones at home!
Pincer grasp is a necessary step in facilitating improved pencil control and consequently aiding neat handwriting. Better finger strength also contributes to greater independence in practical life tasks like buttoning and handling utensils.
Your child will begin by using the pads of their thumb and index finger to manipulate objects, Over time and with lots of practise, they will begin to develop confidence in bending both fingers to use the tip, instead. The latter is called neat pincer grasp and is best for pencil control.
You will notice they are beginning to pick up much smaller items with less fumbling and more precision, using tip-to-tip grip. They might pick up crumbs from the carpet, for example, or fluff from clothing.
Consistency is key to help your child master pincer grasp
This fine motor skill not only enables them to perform everyday practical life tasks with ease but also lays the foundation for more advanced skills like writing and drawing. With a supportive environment and fun, age appropriate activities, you can help children hone their pincer grasp. The most important thing is consistency, so try to build these activities into routine at home.
We hope your toddler will have fun strengthening their finger muscles with these fun pincer grasp activities!